The Pacific Palisades Community Council sent a February letter the City Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee, opposing motion 22-0158, which would allow homeless shelters to be constructed in residential areas, “without regard to otherwise applicable zoning restrictions, location or consideration of impacts on the community, and in any other zones, where they are not currently allowed by right.”
The motion, written by Councilmember Mike Bonin, Nithya Raman and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, was heard on February 24. It was then sent to the five-member Planning Land Use and Management committee, chaired by Harris-Dawson on May 10.
Even though Mar Vista Community Council, Venice Neighborhood Council the Westside Neighborhood Council and the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council all joined Pacific Palisades in opposing the motion, it passed, and will now go to the full City Council.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld voted for it because, “This is solely a report back, not change about what can be built in the neighborhood. This is just getting information about what can or can’t be changed.”
Councilmember Monica Rodriguez agreed, “This is a report back, it isn’t changing anything. We have a homeless crisis; we should investigate all our options.”
Councilman John Lee said, “I have a lot of concerns and I want that on the record.”
The Committee had voted to instruct the Department of City Planning (DCP) to look at options to amend a section of the LAMC to streamline the administrative approval of “shelters for the homeless” as a public benefit project.
The same motion also asks to streamline the administrative process to allow existing and new/temporary shelters to extend their operation or be made permanent.
In a community impact statement, the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council wrote: “Removing community review of homeless projects should not be considered.”
The Del Rey Neighborhood Council, who is neutral, asked the City Council to consider the consequences of “cutting red tape” by removing the public’s right to a transparent approval process, including the right to notification and the opportunity for public comment, including early notification to neighborhood councils and recognized community councils.
Reseda, Echo Park Neighborhood Council and the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council submitted letters in support of the motion because it would be easier for existing faith buildings and community buildings to create shelters.
The Westside Current ran statements from CD 11 Candidates about the motion:
“This is the perfect example of the city trying to sneak something into a motion,” stated Traci Park. “The last sentence in that motion calls for making our current temporary shelters permanent. They are being dishonest and lacking transparency about that.”
“I am on record for being staunchly opposed to it,” said Mike Newhouse. “I don’t think we need to change our zoning to house and address our homeless population. It would also have the unintended consequence of igniting lawsuits. It’s not a commonsense approach.”
In affirming his opposition, Greg Good said, “I think we know we need beds all over the district. But this has to be part of a community process with deep community engagement.”
“I entered this race because I don’t think our elected officials are representing our values,” said Mat Smith. [They are] giving away our community that many of us have worked hard to [improve]. It makes no sense. I’m the furthest from Bonin. I oppose it.”
Allison Polhill stated: “We’ve had encampments close to our schools, threatening our children. I also think we were promised these shelters were temporary—and they should be. People should learn how to fish, and we should not be giving people permanent spaces. They should be temporary.”
Soni Lloyd added that he couldn’t support anything Bonin does with homelessness. “I’ve seen his record. I’ve lived his record. It’s gotten worse and worse. I’m a schoolteacher—and I don’t like my kids walking past the encampments. We need to set a timeline. I don’t think what Bonin is doing is sincere.”
Jim Murez as a candidate and president of the VNC also voiced his opposition to the motion.
(Editor’s note: this story was done in collaboration with the Westside Current.)